Dash cams – get one!

This will be a quick post. The message for today is: if you don’t yet own a dash cam, GET ONE! Don’t wait. 


G1W Dash Cam – determined to be an excellent performer for its modest price

Why? Well, you won’t realize you need one until it’s too late. It’s better to be prepared and never need it, than the alternative.

If you’re involved in an incident a dash camera can provide invaluable evidence as to the events that transpired, as your story won’t always align with the other party’s. If you’re not at fault and the other party is claiming you are, it’s your word against theirs, but a dash cam can reveal the truth.

If you’re involved in an incident you can be subsequently hit with a lawsuit (up to two years later where I live) claiming all kinds of things. Had a dash cam captured any events in question, you might be able to quash any suit entirely. Don’t wait to buy a dash cam until after you needed one. You’ll be glad you made the investment.

Want to see a couple of video reasons to get a dash cam? Here you go:

“Rear ended” on highway (insurance scam attempt foiled)

Terrifying Road Rage caught on dash cam

If you’re looking for a great value on a dash cam, all online research seems to point to a G1W, G1WH, or G1W-C (at time of writing, in June 2014). I won’t go into the differences between models in this post, but googling them should provide the answers. I have no interest in what you buy or from where – but do your research and get one. I have not been paid to write this or promote any products.

TheWireCutter.com seems to have done the research for you. Check out their conclusions (and links to purchase) right here.

Safe driving,





Quoted in Canadian AutoWorld about the Hyundai Equus

Hyundai Equus gets mid-cycle revision for MY 2014

Thursday June 20, 2013 – 11:06 am

Published By: The Formula Publications Team

Hyundai Equus 2014
Hyundai Equus 2014

By Michael Goetz

While Equus has always been a big player in Korea’s domestic luxury market, Hyundai’s decision to bring the vehicle to North America for model-year 2011 raised many an eyebrow.

When it comes to North American Hyundai models, the $65,000-plus Equus is the most un-Hyundai of them all. Low volume. High price. It competes with Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Lexus.

Fast forward to today, as its mid-cycle revision approaches for model year 2014, and the eyebrows still seem to be raised.

Super Low Volume
For calendar year 2011, Hyundai sold 116 Equus. The same number it sold in 2012.

During the first quarter of 2013, Hyundai sold 13, down from the 25 it sold during the same three months of 2012. But according to Hyundai Canada, the slip in volume is not a situation of stalled sales – this is right on the money.

“We anticipated sales of roughly 100 annually. The Equus is meeting sales expectations,” said Hyundai Canada spokesperson, Chad Heard, via email.

If you do some simple division, that amount of volume certainly demands a different business case for the 27 Canadian dealers who raised their hands and invested to become Equus retailers.

‘Because We Can’
Steele Hyundai of Halifax, N.S., is one of those 27 Canadian Equus dealers. So far, the dealership has sold three of the top-line sedans.

“You have to look at it like a dealer or manufacturer would look at brand advertising,” says Peter Gwynne-Timothy, general manager at Steel Hyundai.

“You can’t quantify what it’s worth in dollars and cents. You just take it on faith that the more people you expose your brand to, the better it is for the brand, and for you. But to have actually counted all the nickels and dimes we earned by the sales and service of this vehicles? I don’t know if you could ever argue that you could get your investment back.”

Bob Attrell of Attrell Hyundai in Brampton, Ontario, is more succinct: “It hasn’t made me a nickel.”

By Equus standards, Attrell Hyundai is high volume. The dealership has sold about 12 units so far and has about 16 Equus service customers.

But both dealerships seem entirely okay with having the Equus around as a flagship; an example to show that Hyundai is capable of building a car that can complete with likes of Mercedes-Benz S550 and Lexus LS 460. (For the record, in 2012 those vehicles registered annual sales of 715, and 150, respectively).

When asked if Equus might be hampered by Hyundai’s decision to not launch a separate luxury brand, Heard responded by circling back to its flagship role and how it is designed to showcase Hyundai’s R&D capabilities.

“As such, a Hyundai badge is the most appropriate badge for the Equus and the Hyundai showroom the most appropriate place to display the vehicle.”

Flagship, But a Discreet One
Attrell feels Hyundai has done an “amazing” job on Equus noting he has never received a complaint about the car.

He said Equus looks impressive, has all the requisite luxury amenities, and drives spectacularly, with lots of oomph. And he should know, an Equus is his daily driver.

But whenever he’s out with the car, he says he can always count on one question from curious onlookers: “What is it?”

“They don’t advertise this car,” he said.

Hyundai, however, begged to differ.

“Strategic, targeted support (print, online ads), to appeal to its target customers, but used on a broader scale (experiential events and displays), to demonstrate the company’s engineering capabilities.”

In other words, no television or radio or other big, mass-market campaigns.

According to Gwynne-Timothy, the vehicle’s discrete image can appeal to some buyers.

“At this point, the people who buy Equus appear to be those who could virtually buy anything they wanted. They are very, very wealthy. They are not up and comers dreaming of a Beemer, then settling for a Hyundai. They are people who see the value in the car and could care less about what the label is. In other words, people that don’t have to anything to prove to anyone else.”

Angus McComb of the buying service CarCompass.ca, said he has only fielded one inquiry about the Equus, from a client who eventually settled on a Jaguar XJ.

“The Equus seems to fill an anti-snob niche for those who wish to own a luxury vehicle without the pretense,” McComb said.  “Unfortunately, this niche seems too small to be sustainable and is stuck in a bit a of a Catch 22 when it comes to marketing as advertising the product works against the element of discretion that enables something to be anti-snob.”

Gwynne-Timothy added it’s great for the Hyundai brand to have very affluent people driving them. One of his Equus customers ended up ordering a Santa Fe for his wife.

“Without the Equus, it is unlikely that family would have had a Hyundai in their driveway, let alone two of them.”

Your Time, Your Place
Whether or not the volume is a hit out of the park, one aspect of the Equus story is a customer retention dream – the program to pick up and deliver the vehicle at every service occasion.     Officially, the program is called “Your Time, Your Place,” and it even applies to sales demonstrations.

When service customer vehicles are collected, the dealerships also leave the customer with a loaner, usually another Equus, but it could also be a Genesis or Veracruz. And customers get their cars back with a detail service equivalent to a new delivery.

At Attrell Hyundai, they have a dedicated Equus salesperson and a dedicated Equus service writer. Attrell says these individuals exclusively arrange the pick-ups and drop-offs.

Over time they have managed to forge great relationships with these customers and know all of them by name.

Hyundai’s Chad Heard says the program has become a “unique selling proposition” and one that the company is currently studying, to possibly expand

What is an open-ended vehicle lease?

Let’s quickly answer “what is a lease?

A lease is a method by which an individual or company can obtain the use of a vehicle for a fixed period of time by making regular periodic payments (that are tax-deductible for business applications). The lessee is essentially paying for the depreciation they put on the vehicle during their lease. As lease payments aren’t covering the full value of the vehicle, but rather the depreciation accrued, leases don’t require a significant cash outlay and have lower monthly payments than if financing the entire purchase price inclusive of taxes.

What is a closed-ended lease?

The type of lease with which most consumers are familiar is known as a closed-ended lease. This is a retail lease offered by most manufacturers and dealerships on new vehicles. With a closed-ended lease, the lessee will lease the vehicle for a fixed term, with a fixed km or mileage allowance and restrictions on use with a subjective clause allowing for “reasonable” wear and tear. The monthly payment is derived from the difference between the MSRP or retail price and the pre-determined residual value established by the manufacturer. Closed-ended leases can work for many individuals and the occasional company, but the user needs to fit nicely within the confines of the established lease structure. If you do fit within this fixed structure, then a closed-ended lease can be a very good option for you – just don’t expect any flexibility or the ability to easily get out of your lease ahead of schedule without penalty, as you’ll be upside-down until the day your lease ends. There are resources like LeaseBusters.com to assist, but you’ll need patience and to provide a financial incentive for someone to take over your now-used vehicle at a new car monthly lease payment.

But the closed-ended lease isn’t the only type of lease. There’s another type of lease that’s been popular and common with businesses for quite some time and is been gaining traction with consumers: the open-ended lease.

What is an open-ended lease?

How does an open-ended lease differ from a close-ended lease? An open-ended lease isn’t available solely on new vehicles; pre-owned vehicles can be leased using an open-ended lease. Open-ended leases can be particularly attractive for higher-end luxury and sports cars, especially pre-owned ones. By allowing the original vehicle owner to “take the hit” of the steep depreciation from the first couple years of ownership, leasing a pre-owned vehicle that’s a couple of years old over three or four years can be a great way to own a premium car if you like flexibility and the ability to change vehicles every few years. If you like to buy cars cash and drive them into the ground, leasing won’t make sense for your ownership style. But if you like flexibility and value, an open-ended lease could do the trick.

It’s very important to ensure the structure of a lease is devised to protect you from being “upside down” throughout the course of your lease. To do this, the leasing company should ensure the established residual (which is up to the leasing company’s discretion) is realistic and conservative. This ensures that at the end of your lease you’re not having to cut a big cheque for the difference in value between the predicted residual and the actual term end value. By artificially inflating the residual, an unscrupulous leasing company could make the monthly payments lower and more attractive but leave you exposed to cover any shortfall in value at the end of your lease. This would create a structure similar to that of a “balloon payment” where a large lump sum is due when you hand over the keys. But a well structured open-ended lease will ensure the vehicle is being depreciated appropriately and you will be able to simply toss the leasing company the keys at the end of the lease – or even before – and not find yourself upside down. In fact, a conservative residual would actually mean you end up with positive equity as the value of the vehicle at the end of the lease is greater than the predicted residual and the leasing company cuts you a cheque! There’s no obligation to buy the car at the end of the lease, but you definitely have the option to do so at the residual price should you want to.

So the biggest benefits to an open-ended lease are the ability to: lease a pre-owned vehicle, build equity, step out of your lease early without penalty (provided the lease is well structured), and drive as much or as little as you like without confines or “reasonable wear and tear” restrictions. In simplest terms, you pay only for what you use. And for these reasons it’s easy to see why open-ended leases are gaining popularity.

If you’d like assistance developing a well-structured open-ended lease, I’m at your disposal.


Angus McComb



Are CPO (Certified Pre-Owned) worth the extra money?


If you’re in the market for a used car and have been checking out your options online, chances are you’ve stumbled upon the term CPO which stands for Certified Pre-Owned. There are other terms and acronyms for the same thing, like “CUV” (Certified Used Vehicle) that Honda uses to distinguish its CPO program.

What is a CPO vehicle?

Not to be confused with a regular “certified” used vehicle that will conform only to the local motor vehicle department’s / ministry of transportation’s  minimum road-worthiness requirements, a CPO vehicle is inspected, re-conditioned and certified to manufacturer-established standards that are more rigorous than those of the government. Only certain used vehicles are eligible to be part of a CPO program based on their age, mileage and history. If eligible, the vehicle will go through a re-conditioning process (like refurbishing) and likely comes with an extended manufacturer warranty. So compared to a regular “certified” used vehicle that will meet only the local government’s minimum road-worthiness requirements by having attributes like a minimum tire tread depth and adequate brakes, a CPO vehicle has to be more rigorously up to speed in order to be deemed a CPO vehicle.

What are the benefits of a CPO vehicle?

The biggest advantage to a CPO vehicle for most consumers is peace of mind. Knowing that the used vehicle you’re buying has met certain quality criteria and has been re-conditioned is very reassuring – but it comes with a cost. The re-conditioning is not a free value-added service, and as such is built into the price. As with any pre-owned vehicle, each and every vehicle is unique so comparing CPO vehicles requires appropriate diligence.  And knowing the differences between each manufacturer’s CPO program is very important as the quality, terms and conditions differ greatly.

Where can I buy a CPO vehicle?

CPO vehicles are only found and sold by the vehicle’s corresponding manufacturer dealership. You cannot buy a CPO BMW, for example, at a “John Smith’s Auto Sales” type of independent dealership. You’d have to buy a CPO BMW from a Bimmer dealer, CPO Audi from an Audi dealer etc. etc. If you find a “CPO” vehicle at a small independent dealer, chances are they’ve created their own CPO program that might not carry the same weight and value as a manufacturer-backed CPO vehicle and any extended warranty would be provisioned by a third-party. So be aware that not all CPO programs and vehicles are created equal.

The merits of buying a CPO may be becoming obvious, but the big question that will undoubtedly arise is:

Is a CPO vehicle worth the extra money?

CPO vehicles are more expensive as they have been screened (typically they can’t have been used as rentals, can’t have had a big accident, can’t be over a certain age or km amount), have been re-conditioned (which may involve very little, or perhaps extensive parts and labour) and come with that sweet extended manufacturer warranty that makes buying a used vehicle so much more inviting. For non-luxury brands, CPO vehicles can carry a premium of very little: around $500-1,000 more than a non-CPO options. Luxury brands, however, typically command an additional $1,500-$3,000 for their CPO vehicles. Much of this cost is due to the dealer’s cost to participate in the CPO program as they have to pay the manufacturer (who provides the extended warranty) to register a used car as CPO. Non-premium dealers will pay roughly $400-700 to participate before costs of re-conditioning, and luxury dealers will pay closer to $1,500-2,000 to participate before re-conditioning expenses.

With this premium in mind, it is only worth the extra money if:

a) you have the budget for a CPO vehicle and won’t be over-extending yourself

b) the premium for a CPO is not exorbitant compared to non-CPO vehicles

c) buying a CPO still proves to be cost-effective compared to buying new. Sometimes the incentives on new vehicles can put the total pricing within shooting distance of a CPO (e.g. if financing a new car at 0% vs. a CPO at 5%).

As always, doing your homework will ensure you’re making the right decision when determining whether CPO is worth the extra money and the right decision for you. For many, the added peace of mind of the extended warranty can be worth the premium, but if you’re a value shopper and the lowest up-front price is the bottom line, then CPO is probably not for you. AutoTrader.ca has a tool to let you compare certified programs.

If you’d like any assistance finding a pre-owned vehicle, Car Compass is here to help.

Yours truly,

Angus McComb



Car salesmen finally held accountable for their unconscionable actions

I’m thrilled to see that justice is being brought to predatory salesmen who engage in illegal and unconscionable sales practices. They need to be held accountable for their unethical actions. Time to clean up this industry!

Originally posted by thestar.com (The Toronto Star)

by: Tony Van Alphen

A car salesman who sold a vehicle to an elderly widow for about $24,000 more than she expected has become one of the first auto dealership employees in Ontario to be jailed under current consumer protection legislation.

Naheed Ali Ramji was sentenced in a Belleville court Tuesday to seven months behind bars for “unconscionable representation” and “unfair practice” under the Ontario Consumer Protection Act, and falsifying information under the Motor Vehicle Dealers Act.

“Mr. Ramji targeted female customers who he deemed gullible to take advantage of,” said Justice of the Peace Deanne Chapelle. “He used and took advantage of them both. He used unfair practice by making unconscionable representation to both.”

Chapelle convicted Ramji last November after hearing evidence from six witnesses including customers Doreen Waites, 80, and Barbara Fournier, in her mid-fifties, regarding transactions at Bob Clute Automart and Bob Clute Motors in Belleville in 2010.

“It’s his own fault,” Waites said after hearing about Ramji’s sentence. “We had dealt with him before and he was fine. We never thought he would try to do this to us. I was dumbfounded.”

Court heard Ramji called Waites from Bob Clute Automart about the pending expiry of a lease and she signed what she believed was another one for a new Pontiac model at a cost of about $18,825.

Waites moved and took the car to Michael Boyer Chevrolet Cadillac Buick GMC in Pickering for a small repair and informed the dealer about her unhappiness with the lease. Staff checked the paperwork and found she had actually bought the car and financed it for eight years at a total cost of $43,065.

The dealer alerted the sector’s regulator, the Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council, which investigated and eventually laid charges. The Clute dealership immediately unwound the deal, took the car back and later fired Ramji.

In a second transaction, Fournier contacted Bob Clute Motors and indicated she wanted to buy out a pickup truck whose lease had nearly ended. Evidence revealed Ramji told her that to consummate the deal, she would have to “put up” $5,000 in cash for General Motors to finance the purchase at a whopping 19 per cent despite an excellent credit history. Ramji described the cash payment as “shut-up money.”

Fournier’s husband discovered the terms and contacted the dealer who found the dealership had not received the money. A dealership probe revealed the manager’s signature on the purchase contract was not original and had been forged. The dealer returned the money to Fournier.

Although auto sales people have been jailed after convictions under the Criminal Code, the Ramji case is the first in the province involving the Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council and consumer protection legislation, said council executive director Carl Compton.

The consumer ministry may have successfully prosecuted auto sales people under previous legislation, he said.

“It appears the courts in Ontario are assigning a higher level of importance to offences involving consumer harm than we’ve traditionally seen in the past,” added Compton. “This is good news for consumers and good news for legitimate businesses.”

In 2010, the regulator charged a Mazda dealership in Orangeville and two senior employees for “engaging in unfair practices by making an unconscionable representation” under the act after the sale of a car to a woman for more than $25,000 above its value.

The regulator is still pursuing the case which could mean a maximum fine of $250,000 for the dealership and penalties of $100,000 plus jail time of up to two years if a court convicts the employees.

Mazda Canada quickly pulled the dealer’s franchise agreement for breaching the automaker’s business practices in that case and other incidents. The store is now under new ownership.